Winter is traditionally followed by Spring but not here, and not in the era of climate change. Last week was Winter; this week is the Fire Season.
Perhaps that is a little melodramatic, but it’s justified by the conditions we have experienced recently. The fire season is already well under way, as it usually is by this time of year, and we have had several very smoky days in town but today was exceptional. Late this morning I could hardly see Mount Stuart from the Rising Sun intersection on Charters Towers Rd, so I visited Castle Hill with my camera to see what I could see from there. It wasn’t pretty.
I have arranged these in sequence from North to West to South-east and added notes which will be visible as the images are viewed in the light-box.
A controlled burn on Magnetic Island seems excessive and some are wondering whether it’s still under control. Meanwhile, there are big grass fires on Hervey’s Range and in the direction of Oak Valley. The Town Common isn’t burning now, although scars of several recent fires are visible in that photo; some are also apparent in the middle distance of the Stuart shot.
We sincerely hope that today’s smoke still looks exceptional by the time the rains come, in November or later.
I was told by locals that the Hervey’s Range fire was deliberately lit on Friday 6th as a fuel-reduction burn, and this was confirmed on the RFS Permit to Burn page.
Air quality today, Sunday, is worse than on Friday, with a thick haze reducing visibility to a couple of kilometres, but it seems to be more dust (blowing up from SE Qld) than smoke. The DES Air Quality page rates our air as “very poor” as I write.
The RFS bushfire information page is showing the fires at Toonpan (that’s the one I called “Oak Valley” on Friday), Hervey’s Range and Magnetic Island, and a couple more in the Upper Ross area.
Reports from people close to the Magnetic Island fire all confirm that it is being closely controlled.
Air quality in town was much better by Monday; the dust had almost gone and the smoke had also diminished.
I have been told the Hervey’s Range fire started on or near the Army land at High Range (Sharp’s Rd) on the Friday and was a threat late on Saturday 7.9.19 but was under control by Monday 9.9.19
I was on the Strand very early on Tuesday; the sunrise was spectacular, thanks to the smoke from Magnetic Island.